Obviously Budapest attracts much more visitors during the summer period than during winter as this is the usual travel time for city trips. Also Budapest offers a lot more during the warm months of the year when the city really comes to live with all the restaurants, bars and pubs extending their seats to outside areas, open air bars and event spaces having concerts in warm summer nights and much more.
However Budapest during winter is not less beautiful and the number of activities also is not dramatically less. Yes, Budapest has a lot to offer during winter so I collected a few top line activities that can be done while being in the minus degree range and give some tips where, when and how to do them.
Enjoy the list of 10+ Things to do in Budapest during Winter and feel free to add anything you like to do when it is cold in the comments.
1. Visit a Bath in Budapest
Budapest is world famous for its bathing culture and facilities which all offer an inside and an outside part. As the water sources in the Budapest baths are natural many have a temperature of 23 degrees and above. That makes swimming a pleasure even though it is freezing cold and snowing outside. Actually the outside swimming pools are by far the best to visit during winter it is really a wicked feeling to swim when it is below 0 degrees outside.
Below are some of the best baths in Budapest:
2. Museum Visit
With over 220 museums Budapest offers a rich choice of for travelers and tourists with a fable for history, art and paintings. A museum visit is a graet possibility to escape rain, snow and the cold weather while educating yourself and see things that you do not see every day. It is up to you what you would like to see but here are some suggestions you might like.
3. Christmas Market on Vörösmarty tér
If you are in Budapest during Christmas time I recommend you to have a look at the Christmas market at Vörösmarty tér. There are many Christmas markets in Budapest but most of them are just a collection of the usual food, gift and drink booths offering sausage with bread, beer and useless little things to give away. This you can have around the year at any festival in Budapest, except for the mulled wine. The Christmas market at Vörösmarty tér is the most popular in Budapest and also the nicest in my from my point of view. So have a go and enjoy your mulled wine in the city center. Find out more about the Christmas Market on Vörösmarty tér and other Christmas markets in Budapest.
4. Sledging or Skiing at Normafa
Yes you can go skiing in Budapest even though there are no lifts or any ski resort like facilities around the city. However at Normafa, a beautiful recreation area in the West of Budapest, you have the possibility to put on your skies or sit on your sledge and have a go in case there is snow. It is not a spectacular ride but it is fairly popular to practice skiing here and on weekends it is quite crowded. There are little shops where you can warm up yourself with a hot tea or a mulled wine when having a break.
If you are around with your kids and need some entertainment than pop into one of the many playhouses in Budapest. You can find them in nearly every larger shopping center in the city. Another one is next to the Zoo in Budapest or near Western Train station called MiniCity Playhouse. Kids love the toys, slides, trampolines and all the other things to do. For the parents that might not be as exciting but if the kids are happy most parents are as well.
6. Visit famous sights from inside
Next to the many museums and galleries in Budapest of course there are a lot of historical buildings and churches you might want to visit. These places are beautiful from outside but well worth to have a look inside. Many of them are free of charge and most others are accessible for a small fee. There are many of them but here are some suggestions:
- Matthias Church
- Hungarian Parliament in Budapest – best with a guided tour
- St. Stephen Basilica
- Hungarian State Opera
7. See Andrássy út during Christmas time at night
It is magical! The trees along the Andrássy avenue are decorated with lights and when the sun is going down the Christmas lights light up the street. This is without a doubt one of the most romantic views you can have in Budapest. Especially if there is snow on the streets and not too many cars are passing by it is amazingly beautiful to just have a walk in the cold winter landscape of the most famous road in Budapest.
8. Enjoy a historical Coffee houses
The coffee house culture in Budapest, which came from Austria during the Hungarian-Austrian empire, is well developed and you can find a lot of small coffee houses that are full of history. In many coffee houses you can hear stories about writers and other artists who came by, spend their day in the Café and wrote a book, a poem or a song. Coffee still has a large tradition in Hungary and will exist longer than quick coffee-to-go chains such as Starbucks or Costa Coffee.
A good coffee paired with one of the cakes Hungary is famous for a special moment at any time but especially during winter. It will raise your mood immediately. Check out some coffee house suggestions:
9. Shopping in one of the Budapest shopping centers
If you want to escape from sightseeing, culture and relaxing for a while one good opportunity to spend some time (and money) is to visit one of the many oversize Shopping Centers in Budapest that exist on nearly every second crossroads. In Buda, in Pest, wherever you are you will not have a long distance to walk into a shopping center that offers everything from clothing over electronics to food. Usually stuffed with big brand shops the shopping centers do not really differentiate from each other so it does not matter which one you chose however due to the cannibalization some are a bit empty in terms of stores as well as visitors. here are 3 shopping center where you will get everything you need.
10. Ice Skating on the Városligeti Tó
The Városligeti Tó (city park lake) is located right behind the famous Heroes’ Square in Budapest and belongs to the city park, one of the largest recreation areas in the capital of Hungary. During summer the little lake is home of ducks and fishes and is very popular for having a walk or just going out with your kids. However in the winter time when the water is frozen the lake turns into a large ice rink where hundreds of people go ice skating every day until late evening. Even ice hockey matches and speed skating competitions are going on here during winter. With the picturesque background of the Vajdahunyad Castle and the statues of Heroes’ Square it makes ice skating unforgettable.
11. Enjoy a night in the cinema
Like to watch a movie? Than get your feet up and get into one of the many cinemas in Budapest. In every single shopping center in Budapest you can find a Cinema City or Palace Cinema complex. Most of the movies are dubbed however you can find nearly every movie subtitled in one of the cinemas so that it is possible to enjoy movies in original language which most of the time is English. There are small independent movie theaters where you can see more alternative and non-blockbuster movies if you are sick of typical Hollywood productions. Enjoy an evening with a good movie and some popcorn on a cold winter evening.
What are your favorite things to do in Budapest when it is freezing cold? Leave a comment with your tip!